Monday, September 16

cake~a~baking or making~a~cake...

crunchy on the outside, dense and some may say a little dry on the inside. who would say such a thing! why i
this weekend there was a most definite autumnal feeling in the air. on saturday morn i located my crockpot and set about making a most hearty soup stew thingy from interesting finds in my larder cupboard. spurred on by what looked to be great success heating up in the crockpot (not too orange, more on the reddy side of things), i got all carried away and announced i would be baking a cake. not just any old cake but a dairy free cake, and not just any old dairy free cake but one i had concocted from a regular cake recipe! ah yes indeedy! i was riding high from my crockpot concoction and nothing was going to deter me. 

now of course it was not too long ago that just a normal cake recipe was beyond my means, however trial, patience and determination all played a part in my final mastering of an edible cake. oh and Nigella, she truly played the biggest part of all. i do not go about making lots of different cakes on lots of different days. i had a successful breakthrough of my cake making woes with Nigella's Madeira Cake and that is where i stayed. after a few edible madeira cakes i dabbled a little, i halved the sugar and added chocolate chips to give it a little je ne sais quoi and it worked most marvelously.

however watching my lads of three devour a most deliciously smelling cake in a matter of minutes and i myself cannot participate in the activity, made me into a rather mean spirited cake baker. first off i did not care for the way my lovely cake after hours (well not quite but felt like it) of work, was gone in minutes. secondly, i know i am supposed to bake my cake and then take huge amounts of inner gratitude that my clan loved it enough to eat it so quickly. and although they said their thanks i did not feel they admiration matched the time, effort and love which went into my little cake. thirdly, then i am left with guilt, guilt i am thinking wickedly and resentfully and why can't i just be a Ma Larkin about the whole thing.

so i decided the only way to get over the whole silly cake baking 'might not make anymore because i feeling uppity' situation was to make it so i could enjoy the fruits of my labour along with my lads of three. now of course i could have looked up a dairy free cake and gone about my merry way, but i was attached to our (Nigella and mine's) madeira cake. hence, i found myself riding high from my crockpot hearty soup thingy and thought to myself, surely just a tweak of the recipe and a voila moment will follow. failing that, i would settle for a semi-voila moment...

here's what i did:
1) changed out the cup of sugar to 3/4 cup of coconut sugar
2) changed out the cup of butter (i note it says online 17 tablespoons of butter but in my book it says a cup, perhaps that is the same) to 2/3 cup of canola oil
3) added a hearty 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

after which, i placed my concoction with a flourish into the oven and thought i would drop the cooking time from 1 hour to 55 mins. where upon i went off to tackle the task of shuffling, for plenty of shuffling in the shed needed to be done to accommodate the emptying of Our Gladys

every now and then i peered through the oven door trying to get a glimpse of the goings on. at exactly 55 mins i removed the cake and set it aside to cool whilst eyeing it with in-trepidation. my cake did not look maderia-y in the least, it was a different colour (i suspect the coconut sugar), it was rather crunchy looking (i suspect the lack of butter) and it was rather flatter then i had hoped for (again i suspected everyone or everything except myself). of course i did not fret nor weep at this point because the old saying "proof is in the tasting of the pudding" or something along those lines kept me on the optimistic side

tentatively i sampled a small piece with Our #3. i with my critical eye felt a) it was too dry, b) it was too crusty and c) thank goodness there were chocolate chips to save the day. he with is nearly 18 yr old critical eye (and stomach) felt a) it was not too dry b) it was just the right amount of crunch and c) the dark chocolate chips made for a nice combination with the denseness of the cake.

"aaahaa, chocolate chip!... saviour of the not quite madeira cake" (sung to the theme tune of flash gordon) 

so all in all, was my 'riding high' Madeira Cake tweaked from Nigella's recipe a success? one may well ask. if the fact it got eaten by my lads of three and their buddy Tim on their fishing trip later that day (and no no no, it was not fed to the fish despite what you are thinking) and indeed, chomped on by myself, home alone shuffling, i would count it as a success. would i count it as a voila moment success? ummm, nope... i would count it as a semi~voila moment. next time i will have to change something, do some more tweaking. be it more oil, be it going back to the regular sugar or perhaps be it less baking time. 

in the meantime, whilst i ponder my next tweaking move with Madeira Cake i am daring to spread my cake baking wings and aiming high with this lovely looking beauty. according to my soul sister Debbie, its fail proof, its a party pleaser, its a crowd winner, it is the dairy free chocolate cake to aim high for, when you are nearing the end of your 44th year and you have cause to celebrate...

only time and Tif's cake baking skills will see if that is true